WHEN NDC spokesperson Saboi Imboela referred to the Electoral Commission of Zambia as the ‘Electoral Confusion of Zambia’, she was right. No better word can describe what ECZ is doing than confusion. ECZ, if left unchecked, will plunge this peaceful nation into total chaos. ECZ better begin listening and listen very carefully. In fact, they better listen to stakeholders very well.
A nation’s integrity is as strong as the institutions that undergird them. We cannot be blaming President Edgar Lungu for everything that goes wrong. He is obviously a lousy leader, and most probably, corrupt to the bone (assuming he has any). But we must hold all the bodies created under our Constitution to clear accountability. ECZ has both the constitutional and statutory right to act reasonably and deliver elections in a free and fair manner. But what we are noticing from the ECZ is a body that is unwilling to instil confidence from the public. Mr Nshindano, the new chief of ECZ, is like an intimidated operative. He is acting like a person who has no spine to stand up for the common sense we know he has. What happened in Chilubi cannot and should never ever be justified, unless of course we all turn into little toys.
We refuse this idea that political parties in Chilubi should be paying exorbitant prices to use the ferry that is available to the public. We understand that suddenly after the by-election was called, the body that manages the public ferry in Chilubi hiked user fees to double – if not treble – the amount in order to make it difficult for the opposition to afford. Governmental parastatals are all running at a loss, and there is some sense in making fares reflect the actual value of services. But it is undoubtedly shocking that this business decision came to be made days after the by-election was called. This leaves only one conclusion – the ferry company, ZAMPOST, deliberately raised the charges to keep the opposition away from the island.
The Zambia Police Service is mandated by law to protect the people of Zambia – all Zambians. However, what we have seen in Chilubi is, to be very mild, extremely despicable. We understand that the police hounded Chishimba Kambwili and Hakainde Hichilema out of Chilubi claiming that these two opposition leaders could not possibly campaign in the area because President Lungu was going to be in the town, or village, depending on how you define it. This does not make sense. There is a competitive election going on there. How on earth can the ECZ ever think it is right to hound out two of the opposition leaders out of a constituency? What security concerns can Hakainde and Kambwili pose to President Lungu who travels with a battalion of armed paramilitaries? What the police command used to justify their decision to keep Chilubi to the exclusive use of Dr Edgar Lungu is, for the lack of a better term, nonsense. The police command should quickly begin working towards the common good of all Zambians. The command should stop this behaviour as it is a recipe for disaster. Kambwili and State House are neighbours. They are just a few blocks apart. How can Kambwili be a danger to President Lungu in Chilubi when he is not a danger to the President in Lusaka?
Zambia is a Christian nation. But how does President Lungu live with himself knowing full well that he chased, or caused to be chased, two of his Christian brothers out of Chilubi? All this was done with the approval of the ECZ. I think this President Lungu should stop mocking God. Doesn’t Christianity teach tolerance and love for the other? Which Christian love is this that a man would use it to chase other Zambians from Chilubi? And this is the version of heresy that some clergymen keep supporting. These clergymen think that Lungu should be given latitude to behave in any manner that he wants. This perhaps explains why Lungu would commandeer soldiers to hound out opposition members out of Chilubi, on a Saturday, which is a holy day for some Zambian Christians.
Democracy is defended by the people to whom it concerns. Zambians cannot leave the battle for democracy to the whirlwinds of confused spirits. Zambians will not stand by the lies perpetrated by the ECZ or by the police command. What happened in Chilubi is a disgrace and ECZ must take full responsibility for this fiasco.
In any case, if the PF still claims that it is the people’s choice, why is it resorting to these kind of tactics? There is only one reason – the Patriotic Front is completely finished. It is a dying horse busy holding on to its last kicks. And I can reasonably predict, from past experience, that President Lungu’s end and that of the Patriotic Front will be exceedingly terrible. We had several dictators in Zambia. Where are they now? We had presidents in Zambia who felt like they owned Zambia; where are they now? Did they manage to carry on with their schemes? No, they did not, and they could not. The same applies to Dr Lungu and his group of magicians. Their days are numbered, and terrible will be their end when the people of Zambia rise up as one. The ECZ has a choice to make – either to align with the people or to face the same fate as the PF. There is a lot to correct going forward – but our only wish and prayer is that the ECZ stops acting “ngo tulubi”, and begins acting reasonably in defence of Zambian democracy.
What good is an election if it is not held in a free and fair manner?
Rev Elias Munshya is based in Alberta, Canada where he practices law at the law firm of MUNSHYA LAW. He holds seven degrees and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org